Known as TMJ, TMD or TMJD, temporomandibular disorder is a condition affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) , which connects the mandible or the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull, which is located in front of the ear. The TMJ includes the muscles surrounding the jaw, blood vessels, bones and nerves. Every person have two TMJs, one located on each side of the jaw.
The TMJ mainly works to coordinate movements of the jaw, like chewing and biting. Any disorder in this area will therefore affect the flexibility of the jaw. You may notice pain while talking, yawning or chewing, and even while the jaw is at rest. TMJ disorder can cause intense pain, which can be intermittent, or can be constant and last for many years.
Diagnosis of TMJ disorder
Since TMJ is accompanied by an onset of pain, your dentist will gauge the intensity of pain by administering a “clench” test. If you experience pain in any one tooth or all teeth or the jaw when you bite down, your dentist will diagnose it as TMJ. To confirm this diagnosis and to evaluate the position of the temporomandibular joint, your dentist will create mold impressions of your bite, and mount these on an articulator. Through this, your dentist can determine if there is a structural disorder inside the joint, or other factors like uneven teeth are affecting the joint.